A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill comparable to the controversial Texas law that essentially banned abortions and empowered private citizens to target anyone who attended.
Republican State Rep. Webster Barnaby introduced the bill Wednesday, outlining the potential law (which would go into effect in July 2022) that would fine “at least $10,000 for each abortion performed or induced by the defendant in violation of this chapter, and for each abortion performed or induced in violation of this chapter which the defendant aided or abetted.”
The Florida Heartbeat Act changes the state’s abortion laws by not using the word “fetus”, replacing it with “unborn child”, and it effectively prohibits abortions after the detection of a heartbeat, with a few exceptions. Different from Texas, this bill allows exceptions for rape, incest, and life-threatening cases with proper documentation to be confirmed. Typically, a heartbeat is detected at six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant.
Just like Texas law, a person can sue someone for “aiding and abetting” another person for having an abortion that would be prohibited by law, and they can bring the case within six years.
A spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told The Associated Press in a statement, “Governor DeSantis is pro-life. legislative process in the coming months. »
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Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a vocal advocate for abortion rights, said in a statement in response, “This crude bill excuse attacks women and childbirthers who seek abortions before they even know they are pregnant. It also attempts to emulate Texas by creating a process for action against those who help someone in Florida terminate a pregnancy after 6 weeks Extreme attacks on reproductive health are not about politics, it’s about control, shame, and will impact negative impact on communities that already face barriers to accessing care.
Eskamani added, “We need to stop these extreme anti-abortion bills and I know the people of Florida overwhelmingly agree.”
Last week, State Senator Kathleen Passidomo, a pro-life Republican who is expected to become Senate President next year, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that she opposes at least part of the bill: “I have concerns with the neighbor against the neighbor [aspect]. It’s very disturbing.”
The controversial Texas law essentially eliminates the rights of Roe vs. Wade. The bill prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and does not allow exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.
Under the law, private citizens can sue abortion clinics they suspect of performing illegal abortions after six weeks, as well as anyone who assisted in an abortion, including driving someone to an appointment or by helping to pay the fees. If the lawsuit is successful, they will receive a minimum of $10,000.
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Abortion providers in Texas have already tried to stop the bill, asking the Supreme Court to issue an emergency block last month before it took effect. They argued that the law would “immediately and catastrophically reduce access to abortion in Texas, denying care to at least 85% of abortion patients in Texas (those who are six weeks or more pregnant) and forcing probably many abortion clinics to close eventually.”
The court voted 5-4 against the request, allowing the law to remain in effect.
Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement at the time: “This decision is not the final word on Roe vs. Wade, and we will not sit idly by and allow our nation to return to the days of clandestine abortions. We will not honor cash incentives for virtual vigilantes and patient intimidation. We will use every lever of our administration to defend the right to safe and legal abortion – and to strengthen that right.”
The Supreme Court should rise to the challenges of Texas and other states to Roe vs. Wade when they are back in session in October.